Changing Communities – Mosques on Prairies

A year ago I was introduced by my husband to a delightful show set in Western Canada – Little Mosque on the Prairie. The creator is a Pakistani Muslim named Zarqa Nawaz who grew up in Canada with regular attendance at mosques in big cities. Her inspiration for creating the show is said to come from her move to Regina in the Saskatchewan province of Canada and the connections that she began to make with mosques in less urban areas. While it may be possible to avoid those with whom you disagree in large urban areas, people tend to know each other well in smaller communities and towns, so well in fact that at times it is impossible to avoid differing opinions and viewpoints.

To give you a short synopsis, the show looks not only at Muslims in a community but also digs into their interactions with Christians, as they all sort through life together in a small town, aptly called Mercy. The show has lovable characters that include a handsome young Imam, Amaar, who deeply wants to please his constituents at the mosque. Then there’s Yasir, a Lebanese businessman and self-described leader of the community who runs his construction business out of the mosque;  his Canadian wife who converted to Islam because of her love for Yasir and takes her faith somewhat casually; and their daughter Rayyan, a devout Muslim taking her faith and feminism equally seriously.  Added to this is a radio show host that loves inciting suspicion of the Muslim community, an African woman who runs a café, and a fundamentalist Muslim, Baber, who delights in bringing forth a more traditional view to the community.  There are others of both Muslim and Christian faiths, making up a colorful community in a small Canadian prairie town. The point of the show is to draw the viewer into a greater understanding of a Muslim immigrant community in a way that is non-threatening and effective in its message.

Although set in Canada, the show is a reminder of the changing communities throughout the western world. The success of the show for six seasons is evidence of an audience that understands they are a part of multi-ethnic and multi-faith communities and want to know more about interacting with those around them. It gives a voice to some of the natural conflicts that occur in diverse communities but does so with humor, making the subjects addressed more palatable and the audience able to engage in healthy self-reflection.

There are times when television or movies can portray real-life issues in ways that help us reflect, learn, and change. Little Mosque on the Prairie is a great example of this and serves as a reminder that it’s worth working through some of our biases for the sake of our communities. If you have time today – take a look at this short clip and see what you think!

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